Am I far off in saying that "In the Loop" is exactly what would happen if Richard Lester and David Mamet collaborated on a movie?
Equal parts cheeky, farcical, satirical and utterly profane, "Loop" gives us a behind-the-scenes view of politics. Unfortunately, these corridors of power are populated by people I don't think you'd want making any political decisions on your behalf.
It all starts when dimwitted, low-level British minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) says that a war with an undisclosed, Middle Eastern country is "unforeseeable." This sends snarling Brit communications director Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) on a bile-spewing rampage. Looking like John Turturro in a Caesar cut and sounding like Gordon Ramsay after his soufflé turns flat, Tucker comes up with creatively coarse ways to tell Foster to get in line. Unfortunately, our boy Foster keeps putting his foot in his mouth, telling the media they must "climb the wall of conflict" before heading to the road of peace.
These gaffes are music to the ears of some folk over in the U.S., as an uppity State Department hawk (David Rasche) sets up a secret war committee to get this unforeseeable war going, while a gum-bleeding diplomat (Mimi Kennedy) and a self-deprecating Army general (James Gandolfini -- yes, Tony Soprano is in the heazy!) do what they can to crash it.
Eventually, the Brits come over to this neck of the woods -- first in D.C, then at the United Nations -- and get wrapped up in these silly, chaotic war games, finding themselves trying to stop a war that's beginning to become all too foreseeable.
It's probably worth mentioning that "Loop" is a spin-off of "The Thick of It," a BBC Britcom created by the movie's director, Armando Iannucci. Just like that show, "Loop" sets its mocking, cinema verite-style focus on political bureaucracy, as most of the characters (a few of them from the show itself) work mostly to keep their jobs and stay away from bearing any major responsibility. If they are shown taking a stand for something, it is purely by accident.
Nonetheless, there are moments in "Loop" that are, to borrow the name of a podcast, never not funny. (Steve Coogan, Brit funnyman and Iannucci's former "Alan Partridge" collaborator, even makes a side-splitting cameo as a disgruntled citizen.) It's almost like Iannucci and his crew of writers went out of their way to make a movie that politicos on both sides of the pond would be quoting endlessly. (I have a feeling the elaborate, expletive-filled diatribes given by Capaldi will be quoted ad nauseam.) I hope I am the first to say this is gonna be like "This Is Spinal Tap" for government wonks.
While "Loop" suggests that it beats with a cynical, pessimistic heart (especially in its outcome), the movie is more optimistic -- Capraesque, even -- than it lets on. These characters could even be seen as nothing more than frustrated pacifists, working overtime, in their own bumbling way, to rid the planet of any more needless violence.
As unbelievable as this sounds, the selfish, vulgar, petty, chowderheaded men and women of "In the Loop" are actually the good guys.